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Introduction

This is book about people, about dreamers and rogues, about shysters and heroes, about travellers and settlers, about governed and governors, about adults and children, about dogs and mosquitoes and black flies, and about their links through mining, the second-oldest profession. It documents triumphs and failures of people, and the glory and gloom of places, it crystallizes names such as Betts Cove, La Manche, Terra Nova and Sleepy Cove, and it recreates the towns that are no more. It is about the time and history, showing the intimate relations between Newfoundland mining and world events, from the Treaty of Versailles to the Second World War.

"Once Upon a Mine" has lessons of import. For Newfoundland, it shows the incredible variety of mining ventures ("Sure the country is pregnant all over, with metal they call the Proprieties"), and factors, political, entrepreneurial and practical, which led to their success or failure. Their repetition clearly illustrates the maxim that those who neglect history are doomed to repeat it, a risk which this book greatly lessens. You, the general reader, will see that "mines are where you find them", and can be mined only there, unlike any other natural resources. You will see that mineral deposits are finite and become depleted, so that mine and mining towns have a finite life. You will see that mines have to be made, as well as found, requiring determination and skill.

This book is a mine of information, but it is no dry history book, nor a guide for geologists and miners. It is more like the sagas. It's a distillation of romance and adventure, blood, sweat and tears, disaster and ship-wreck. Wendy shares with you her love of Newfoundland, its people and its places and its rocks, in a style that's crisp and clear and colourful. Dig in. You are guaranteed rich veins of insight, humour and information.

Dr. David Strong,
Memorial University of Newfoundland